DAYS 1 & 2: LA to Santiago, Chile
I’ve been eager to write about our fantastic trip to Patagonia since we got back, but with moving, cleaning, buying appliances, painting kitchens and all those other time-sucking activities there just hasn’t been any time. But now that my computer is set up and our new place is almost in order, I want to write about it before I forget all the lovely details.
First things first– our trip to South America was AMAZING. We had the time of our lives, did things we’ve never done before, saw vistas so breathtaking you had to praise God for creating such beauty, ate delicious foods and came back rested and revived… just what the doctor ordered.
Our trip started in LA, where my friend Rachael offered to keep watch over our car and drive up to the airport. Friends are the best, right? When we checked in for our flight, we learned that it was oversold and they were offering $1,300 CASH per ticket to wait for a later flight. We probably should have taken it, but we were going on vacation and just didn’t want to delay any longer. Besides, taking a later flight would have meant missing Santiago completely which we didn’t wanna do.
We arrived in Santiago, Chile (the capital city) bright and early at 6AM. The sun wasn’t even up there and my body was sure that it was still the middle of the night (which it was back in San Diego). Groggy and hungry, we caught a bus to the subway to our hostel. It was too early to check-in so we changed clothes, splashed water on our faces and headed out with a map and growling stomachs searching for breakfast. And we searched…and searched. Nothing. We were grumpy and about to give up when we spotted some red umbrellas with a couple of people sipping coffees. Success! Some quiche and heavenly cappuccinos topped with a heavenly, thick homemade whipped cream were the perfect wake-up remedy.
Well, maybe not remedy. About 2 hours later I was ready to crash again. We wandered the city, looking at the sites. When you are that sleepy, you just don’t care about political buildings or shopping centers (Santiago is actually famous for it’s giant shopping malls) so as soon as we knew our room would be available, we headed back to the hostal for a little siesta.
A couple hours later, refreshed and awake, we headed out yet again! After a quick afternoon snack (guac smothered hot dogs, a Chilean favorite), we knew exactly where we wanted to go — back through the trendy BellaVista neighborhood to Cerro San Cristóbal. This is where you go to see panaramic views of the city and the Andes. You can take the funicular to the top of the hill, which is a bit scary in itself.
From there you can walk up the steps to the giant towering Madonna. We had hoped to catch the sunset from there, but when it was almost 8PM and the sun wasn’t near the horizon yet, we realized that it just wasn’t possible with their long summer days (the funicular closes around 8).
By this time, Bella Vista was BUSTLING with people! During the day there was no one around but at night that neighborhood comes alive! We went hunting for dinner options and decided on….don’t judge…sushi. Yep, our first evening in Chile and we ate sushi. In our defense, it’s a very cosmopolitan city with every food option imaginable so sushi isn’t strange to them. And it was delish. So there.
Stayed at: Hostal Rio Amazonas which was great! In South America, hostals (not to be confused with hostels) are basically like bed and breakfasts. This place looked like an old tudor mini-castle, was close to everything, had a friendly staff that got up at 4am to make us breakfast before our red-eye flight (seriously) and probably had the best breakfast of anywhere we stayed (which just means that they served more than bread). The rooms were sparse but clean
Ate: sushi at Fukai in the Patio Bellavista which has TONS of restaurant options; Viennessa hot dogs — a Chilean specialty where the hot dog is covered in thick guac, mayo and then sprinkled with diced tomatoes.